New To Blu: Jimi - All Is By My Side

The long awaited Jimi Hendrix biopic hits blu-ray this Tuesday.

"So what you're saying is
you got me all dressed up for
this crap show?" 
For music enthusiasts such as myself, the idea of a Hendrix film was one that piqued our interest. Sadly for us, this mundane, low budget, indie take on the guitar master's career is just a relationship drama that gives us barely any character development, no back story, and no real idea of who the man actually was. From most reports, this whole movie is a fallacy that's a gross misrepresentation of Jimi's real rise to fame. 

All Is By My Side paints Jimi as a violent abuser of women with a hot temper and a mean streak that's been shot down by the Hendrix estate and numerous other sources. Whether it's true or not doesn't matter because this miscalculated attempt at storytelling is a flop from front to back. 

Where this absolute failure of a biopic truly stutters is in its absence of any original music by Hendrix himself. The Hendrix estate wouldn't allow any use of his music in this jumbled relationship drama and it's easy to see why. All Is By My Side is like a meandering gossip column for music junkies that gives them nothing they want to see. Viewers are thrown right into his early years in London, but the story never expands on the building blocks of his genius or anything other than a constant string of miserable relationships and a few shoulder to shoulder moments with other musical giants of that period. Hendrix plays numerous cover songs throughout the movie, but its not enough to satiate the need of any hungry music fan. 

There are various other annoyances throughout the film that will drive audiences batty or at least make them question the filmmaker's motives. For a movie about music, one would think that the sound design would be top notch. Well, it's not. They chose to use strange moments of silence, buried dialogue and a weird audio mix that will not only annoy music fans but will be unappealing to any general viewer. They tried doing some bizarre art house mix that is a total shambles in a film that should be (above all) dedicated to sound and recreating an era. 

"I told them. Give me a better script.
I'll play Jimi again.
After all, my music career isn't
going anywhere."
The only real standouts here are Andre Benjamin and the always graceful Imogen Poots. Benjamin looks and sounds just like Hendrix. His mannerisms, physical attributes, and vocal inflections are spot on. While his mock guitar work leaves a lot to be desired, he really does his best with the limited material he's given. If this had been a REAL movie about Hendrix, there would be no other choice. Poots is the other strong point. Just like Benjamin, she tries to adapt to a mundane script but falters underneath an utterly dour delivery of script. 

If you're looking for the Hendrix story, this is not it. All Is By My Side is a narrow look at a brief moment in the man's life that has been disregarded by music aficionados, family members, and by people that were actually there. If you must see it, take it with a grain of salt. The weird, dingy European look of the film does nothing to further the movie's dire attempt to turn the early years of a masterful guitarist into a soap opera filled with girlfriend beatings, obtuse silences, and embarrassing attention to facts. 

Skip it. This isn't the guitar movie you're looking for.